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Ebola vaccine tests planned soon, National Institutes of Health says



The National Institutes of Health will
begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in
people as early as September, the NIH
announced Thursday.
The federal agency has been working on the
vaccine over the last few years and says it has
seen positive results when testing on primates.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said
NIH has been working with the Food and Drug
Administration to get the vaccine into early trials
as soon as possible. According to NIAID, the
results of the trial could come early next year.
The announcement comes the same day the
Centers for Disease Control raised its travel alert
for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from level
two to level three, warning against any
nonessential travel to the region, because of an
Ebola epidemic. Since 2003, the agency has only
issued level 3 alerts on two occasions: during the
outbreak of SARS, severe acute respiratory
syndrome, in 2003, and in the aftermath of the
2010 Haiti earthquake.
The CDC is sending 50 additional
personnel to the three countries, CDC
Director Dr.Tom Frieden said. They
will be working to speed up
laboratory testing, trace potentially
infected people and strengthen the
local health care systems.
Experts: The U.S. is ready for Ebola
Ebola is believed to have killed 729
people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra
Leone and Nigeria between March 1
and July 27, according to the World
Health Organization. Stopping this
particular epidemic could take
months. It’s like fighting a forest fire, Frieden
said. “If you leave even one burning ember, the
epidemic can start again.”
This is not the first Ebola vaccine to be tested on
humans and not the only treatment in the
works. In March, a group at the University of
Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, led by
Thomas Geisbert, a professor of microbiology
and immunology, was awarded a five year, $26
million grant to work with three promising Ebola
Geisbert is best known as the man who
discovered an airborne strain of Ebola that
infects only monkeys.
“What our grant covers is taking three
treatments that we think are the most
promising that have shown substantial ability to
protect animals against Ebola (in a biosafety
level four laboratory), Geisbert said. “So these
treatments, one of these is actually a vaccine
that works as a post-exposure treatment, much
like the rabies vaccine when used here in the
United States. Another is a small molecule
inhibitor called a SIRNA. And the third is just
conventional monoclonal antibodies. All of these
have been able to protect nonhuman primates
against Ebola when given after exposure.”
The experimental vaccine Geisbert is working
with has been nearly 100% effective in
preventing infection in macaque monkeys, and
also shows some effectiveness as a treatment
when given soon after an exposure. In 2009, it
was given to a lab worker in Germany after the
worker reported being accidentally pricked with
a needle. The worker did not develop Ebola,
although it’s not clear whether that’s because of
the vaccine.
Because of its strict rules and standards, the
FDA can take years to get a vaccine to market.
But it does makes exceptions to fast-track drug
development, especially when it comes to
deadly diseases like Ebola.
Geisbert said that’s important, because unlike
outbreaks of Ebola in the past, this epidemic is
harder to manage
“I think it’s very different, I mean historically
outbreaks have occurred in central Africa and
they have been relatively easy to contain,”
Geisbert said. “Usually, the outbreaks tend to
occur in small villages, but it’s controlled and
kind of burns out. What we are seeing in West
Africa here is completely different.


They are having the virus occur simultaneously across a
very large geographic area in different locations
all at the same time. And that’s very difficult to
contain because again the organizations with the
expertise in controlling these outbreaks, their
resources are really spread thin.”
The Ebola infection often is fatal. At this point,
there are no vaccines that protect humans from
the deadly virus.

According to the World Health
Organization, more than 1,300 people have
been infected in West Africa in this recent
epidemic. Public health officials have called this
the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Written By Val Willingham, CNN.

Credits: Twitter, CNN and Google Images.

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